Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

A descending thoracic aortic aneurysm is bulging and weakness in the wall of the descending thoracic aorta, located in the back of the chest cavity. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, and it delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A descending thoracic aortic aneurysm can burst, which can cause life-threatening, uncontrolled bleeding.

Descending thoracic aortic aneurysm, which is shown at the back of the chest cavity, behind the heart.

Are You at Risk? 

Atherosclerosis plays a key role in the development of a descending thoracic aortic aneurysm.

Other risk factors include:

Diagnosing A Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

If you have a descending thoracic aortic aneurysm, you may experience severe or dull pain in the abdomen, chest, lower back or groin and/or sharp, sudden pain in the back or abdomen.

Our specialists can diagnose you through a series of tests, including:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Angiography
  • Echocardiography

Treatment for A Descending Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm

You and your healthcare provider will choose a treatment method that suits your needs.

  • Close monitoring: You may undergo regular screenings to check the size and growth of the aneurysm to determine if treatment is necessary.
  • Lifestyle changes: Steps such as quitting smoking, controlling diabetes and eating a low-fat diet to reduce cholesterol levels may help keep the aneurysm from growing.
  • Medication: Medication may help reduce high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
  • Surgery: Surgeons may repair the aneurysm with a stent-graft, which they insert into the aorta through an artery in the leg. In some cases, open surgery (requiring a larger incision in the chest) may be necessary to repair the aneurysm by replacing it with an artificial blood vessel.


Call 434.924.3627.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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